BOTTLES AND CANS
There is a hidden blessing in growing up poor. I feel bad for those who didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with somewhat meager means. You develop a deeper appreciation for what you have yet foster a burning desire to have and become more. Growing poor or in difficult economic circumstances is often the formula needed to grow and fuel a burning desire to be somebody plus develop a healthy “do whatever it takes” attitude. As a young boy growing up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, the famous Central Park was walking distance from the Taft Projects. So, on the weekends, my twin brother Joe and I would grab large Hefty leaf bags and head down to the baseball fields because we knew unlimited opportunity awaited us…empty bottles and cans. There was a supply of empty bottles and cans that were only limited by the amount of Hefty bags we could carry back to the supermarket to trade in for nickels. We did this week in, and week out until we would have enough money to buy the jeans, the sneakers, the Walkmans, you know…the cool stuff. This sparked the entrepreneurial spirit in both of us. At a young age, we quickly came to the understanding that there would never be a reason for us to be broke or struggle because there is always a way to make money (legally) if you’re willing to keep an open mind, a fine-tuned opportunity radar, do what others may not, be hungry, and most importantly, humble.
Today, there are no shortages of bottles and cans. The challenge is that many don’t see bottles and cans. They see garbage. They miss the fact that sometimes opportunity is disguised as something possibly unpopular, unproven, not worth the effort, embarrassing, and even a waste of time. I’m thankful that so many park visitors and ballplayers left those precious bottles and cans on the ground because while others saw trash…we saw cash! The insight and perspectives that those empty bottles and cans gave us became more extraordinary life and success lessons that no book, course, speaker, or school could have ever provided.